Why Home Inspectors Use Crawl Bots
Crawlspace robots, also known as crawl bots or crawlers, are remote-operated, unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) designed to capture photos and videos in otherwise inaccessible crawlspaces. Although newer to the inspection industry, this technology has a decades-long history in other fields, such as space, agriculture, mining, emergency response, and military.
When asked why they use robots to perform crawlspace inspections, the home inspectors we interviewed shared the following reasons:
Certain limitations—like narrow entrances, dangerous or disease-carrying animals, and signs of airborne toxins—may prevent an inspector from personally inspecting crawlspaces. Thus, inspectors may worry about providing an incomplete service.
That concern is exactly why inspectors choose to invest in crawl bots. Between him and the bot, he rarely encounters a crawlspace he can’t access. This allows him to provide more thorough and consistent inspections.
“I try to provide the best service possible, as long as I am safe,” “With the bot, I can get into more places.”
A similar motive. In the rare situations where he couldn’t enter a crawlspace, he wondered about any defects or issues he may have missed by not inspecting it. He hoped a crawl bot would ease these concerns.
“There were just some crawlspaces that even a small guy like me couldn’t fit in,” Thuss said. “I was worried: What could I have overlooked? What lingering problems were back there that I just couldn’t see? I don’t like disclaiming things [when I don’t have to]. It just goes against the grain.”
2. They wanted to reduce exposure to harm.
Another reason for using a crawl bot is to reduce your direct exposure to uncomfortable and hazardous environments. For example, if wet crawlspaces or dangerous snakes are more common in your inspection region, you may prefer to observe these hazards from a distance—without skipping the crawlspace altogether.
“In this part of the country, [crawlspaces are] almost always wet and moldy. They’re not healthy places,” “But it’s such a critical place to inspect, and it’s really a locus of a lot of the problems that I see.”
You can easily disinfect his bot. Rather than worrying about his personal protective equipment (PPE) spreading crawlspace toxins on site or in his home, Thuss minimizes potential harm by cleaning his bot after using it to inspect the space.
3. They wanted a more efficient way to perform crawlspace inspections.
Navigating a crawlspace requires lots of multitasking. In addition to documenting observations and looking for safety concerns, you must do so while crawling on hands, knees, or elbows in tight spaces and extreme temperatures.
Needed a solution that would allow him to reach more of a crawlspace, and more comfortably.
“[Crawlspaces] can be physically demanding. The impetus was there for me to try to find a better way,” he said. “The machine…can really cover some ground pretty quickly.”
Crawl bots can also assist in providing higher quality footage with 360-degree view cameras, bright lights, and the ability to take pictures with an uninterrupted video feed. Although an added convenience for some, these features may introduce more issues than advantages for other inspectors.